The Cathedral wouldn't be able to function without its 450 or so volunteers of all ages and backgrounds.

Some volunteers give many hours, others just a few. Some help each week, others just a few times a year. Whatever your time commitment, you will be much appreciated.

Our volunteers perform a variety of different roles: during services we need Stewards, Readers, and Servers, who carry the cross and candles; during the day we need Cathedral Guides and ordained clergy or Licensed Lay Ministers to act as Chaplain Guides; and there are specialist roles as well: Bell Ringers, Embroiderers, Flower Arrangers and Choral Singers.

All our volunteers are made very welcome and are a highly valued part of the Cathedral community. They are invited to monthly coffee mornings with talks or quizzes, special services, and parties.

Please contact Miranda Hockliffe, Volunteer & Visitor Coordinator, for a chat.

Meet some of our wonderful volunteers below, talking about their different roles:

Bill - Cathedral GuideBill - Cathedral Guide

Bill, an unbelievable 91, travels for an hour on the bus to volunteer as a Cathedral Guide, which he has been doing for about six years. He started as a Welcomer and then, encouraged by a friend he made at the Cathedral, thought he’d try being a Guide. He has always been interested in old buildings and castles and finds the history of the Cathedral fascinating. ‘There’s always something to find out, and a lot of different opinions. I love telling American visitors that buried here is Bishop Berkeley, who gave his name to Berkeley University in California. They had no idea and they’re thrilled to bits! I show them his monument and the inscription on the floor under which he’s buried, worn away now, but you can still see it says he had “Every virtue under Heaven”.’ He loves the community of the Cathedral and the friendship with other guides. He even does stitching – creating images of English cathedrals to designs drawn by the Cathedral Head of Embroidery.

Find out about volunteering as a cathedral guide

Sally - StewardSally - Steward

Sally began volunteering as a Steward in 2019 and really enjoys it. She helps out most Sunday mornings at the Eucharist. ‘I just love being in the Cathedral, I love the service and the music, and I really enjoy meeting and welcoming people, and helping with the drinks afterwards. I’m getting to know members of the congregation, which is lovely.  I sign up to volunteer a month ahead but can make changes if I have to, so it works very well. I’d say to anyone thinking about volunteering, it’s fun, give it a go. You meet people and have a chat, it’s very friendly. You won’t lose anything by trying!’

Find out about volunteering as a steward

Carolyn - Reader. Photo credit: Geraint LewisCarolyn - Reader

Carolyn, a former teacher, management consultant, actor and producer, and now a playwright running her own theatre company, started volunteering as a reader in 2009.  ‘It’s such a privilege to read the Bible to others, it’s a chance to get the beautiful words across and I’d love to feel that if I can read well, people will be able to really listen and get an insight and maybe some comfort and encouragement.’ Readers are called on once or twice in a three-month period; they’re given a lot of notice and can always swap with someone if they need to. ‘The people here are so supportive and kind, and it’s so fulfilling to be part of a living community as well as being in a historical gem. My faith is important to me and to be able to be part of Christ Church is such a privilege. I’d definitely recommend people to volunteer!’

Find out about volunteering as a reader

Simon - SingerSimon - Singer

Simon Hill has been singing in church choirs since he was six and with the Cathedral Singers for the last 20 years. He’s also  often one of the  serving team, as well as being a church warden in his village. The Cathedral Singers main role is to sing daily services in the Cathedral in half-term and the university vacations, except for the month of August, complementing this with Summer and Christmas concerts, occasional visits to other cathedrals, recordings, and foreign tours such as that to twinned city Bonn in Summer 2022.

The Cathedral Singers have a total membership of around 60, with about 25 taking part at any one service. Simon sings about half the services, usually at weekends, as during the week he’s in London where he runs his own executive search company. He loves the opportunity to sing beautiful and challenging music in such a wonderful building. ‘Music raises the consciousness of the congregation: the words, music and movement of the service as a whole all help people to experience holiness. It’s wonderful to be part of such a long and important choral tradition. You really become part of the rhythm of the building and it’s a great privilege.’

Find out about volunteering as a singer

Marian  - Chaplain GuideMarian - Chaplain Guide

Marian was licensed as a lay minister in 2017 in a ceremony at the Cathedral. Her local parish is in Buckinghamshire, where she leads services and preaches She has volunteered as a Day Chaplain and Chaplain Guide at the Cathedral for the past three years, attending about once a month. She says prayers on the hour, a reminder to visitors that the Cathedral is a place of worship, and is on hand if anyone would like to talk to a minister.  ‘You never know what people are going through; sometimes the prayers really touch people, and they would just like someone to talk to.’ Like so many others, she is drawn to the Cathedral: ‘There’s something about this place. Though there’s been turmoil with the pandemic, it’s a blink of an eye in the history of the church of Christ, and in the history of this building.  This place was chosen so long ago to be a holy place, different generations have built their home of worship on this spot. You can really feel the spirituality when you’re here.’ Licensed Lay Ministers like Marian and ordained priests are regularly in attendance at the Cathedral to pray and to support worshippers and visitors.

Find out about volunteering as a chaplain guide


Anne - Flower ArrangerAnne - Flower Arranger

Anne, a trained florist, is the volunteer in charge of the Cathedral flowers. She has the task of organising the large talented team who make the stunning arrangements that enhance the building. This rota of experienced arrangers come from all over the diocese; most attend local arranging classes and clubs, have worked in their local churches and in stately homes, and many compete in flower festivals. They bring foliage from home while it’s Anne’s job to order and arrange delivery of the flowers, and on Friday mornings (except in Lent and Advent, when by tradition there are no flowers) Anne and two or three of the team will gather at the Cathedral to produce four large arrangements, two as you enter the Cathedral, one at St Frideswide’s shrine, and one at the high altar. The colours are carefully chosen to fit in with liturgical colours, and Anne liaises with Philippa White, the Precentor, to check which shades are appropriate.  Anne loves the role: ‘Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and appreciative of what we do. We love doing large-scale arrangements and to do them in the beautiful Cathedral is a real privilege.’

Find out about volunteering as a flower arranger

Glynis - ServerGlynis - Server

Glynis, a copy-editor by occupation, first volunteered at the Cathedral as a collection counter (something that ended with Covid-19). Later, there was an appeal for people to help with serving or reading. Glynis felt she would be happy to read, but that serving wasn’t really for her. She didn’t answer that appeal, but decided she would if it came up again. When it did, it was only for servers. She volunteered anyway, and now acts as acolyte (candle-bearer) or crucifer (cross-carrier). ‘Cross and lights’ lead the procession of ministers and choir in and out of the Sunday morning Eucharist and some other services. She was nervous at first, but soon got used to it, and now enjoys it. ‘As a server you’re really part of the service. I’d say to anyone who is in two minds about it, do it! It’ll be fine.’ And Glynis did join the readers’ rota.

Find out about volunteering as a server

Suellen - EmbroidererSuellen - Embroiderer

The Embroidery Group, which meets every Wednesday from 10am to 3pm, was started by former occupational therapist Suellen in 1984. Suellen, who has a certificate in ecclesiastical embroidery and  City & Guilds certificates in both teaching and creating embroidery, has run the group ever since, training recruits and creating all the amazing designs. ‘Embroidery spans a whole range of techniques, from canvas work to gold work, Japanese embroidery, silk embroidery, appliqué, and a 15th century technique called or n where silk thread is sewn over gold thread so that the colour changes as you look at it.’ The stitching is a slow and exquisite process: they use the old ways, not commercial techniques and speeds. ‘When we repair work we think of the people who did it originally and admire their skill’, says Suellen. The group produces new vestments, altar-cloths, hangings, kneelers etc, as well as repairing old ones, not only for the Cathedral and other churches in the diocese but also in response to commissions from all over the world. The work produced is stunning and the embroiderers are thoroughly absorbed and dedicated but also having fun. ‘It’s a chance to get out of the house and do something for myself. And of course chat, it’s so easy to chat while you’re stitching. I look forward to coming’, says one of the group.

Find out about volunteering as an embroiderer

Winnie - Chaplain Guide

Winnie, born in New Zealand to Jewish parents, moved to Oxford after living and working in Paris. Despite a previous complete lack of interest in churches, she started going to Evensong here and converted to Christianity, and was baptised and confirmed in the Cathedral in 2005. ‘I fell in love with the place. It’s my spiritual home.’ Wanting to get more involved, she trained as a Chaplain Guide under Verger Jim Godfrey, and, contrary to expectation, loved it. She does tours in both English and French. ‘You never run out of new things to learn here, I almost never come without noticing something I haven’t noticed before, or learning something I didn’t know before. I always say that if you knew Christ Church inside out you’d know the history of England. When I take tours I feel I can keep almost anyone’s attention because there’s so much of interest  in the  Cathedral.’ Winnie’s aim is to make sure visitors leave smiling, and she gets a lot of fulfilment from her interaction with them: ’I would never have thought that one day I’d be leading tours in a cathedral or that at this time in my life I’d come across a new field where there’s so much to learn.’

Find out about volunteering as a chaplain guide

Mark - Bell ringer

Mark - Bell Ringer

Mark is Secretary of the Oxford Society of Change Ringers, which was founded in 1734. Members ring at Christ Church, Carfax, and many of the oldest colleges including Merton and Magdalen. Mark comes from a ringing family and has been doing it for 25 years, since he was 9 years old.  Experienced ringers are always welcome to join the Society, though they need to be very proficient to ring at Christ Church, the most difficult and prestigious of all the Society’s venues. ‘The standard for joining us here is to be able to ring Surprise Royal. The Cathedral has 12 bells – there are only about 120 rings of 12 bells in the whole country, out of about 6000 sets. They’re tough ones to ring – the first six are hung in a straight line, not a circle, so it’s hard to see the others ringing.’  The group rings at the Cathedral from 10am to 11am on Sunday mornings, with practice on Thursdays from 7.30 to 9pm every other week, and they also ring every other Sunday afternoon. The ringing is unpaid except for some special occasions, including college events and weddings (fairly unusual  – normally all ringing is unpaid).

Find out about volunteering as a bell ringer

Wendy - Day ChaplainWendy - Day Chaplain

Licensed Lay Minister Wendy has been a Day Chaplain at the Cathedral for six years. She comes in once a month to spend the day here, along with her husband Nigel, who volunteers as a Guide. ‘I spend six hours in the cathedral, walking around or sitting. I say silent prayers in different places as well as prayers aloud on the hour. Because I’m wearing a cassock people are willing to approach me, sometimes about the Cathedral, sometimes other issues. We really just talk, I don’t lead the conversation. It’s a fine balance between information and listening.’

‘There’s something about the cathedral. I feel God is in this place, even in the stones. It’s a mix of history, worship and the lovely atmosphere; it speaks to me in my heart. There was one moment that struck me in particular: I was in early one morning, it was cold outside but the cathedral felt warm, very calm and peaceful.  You can find God in any place but the cathedral seems to have an extra peace, a real sense of calm and depth.’

Find out about volunteering as a day chaplain

Mike - Cathedral GuideMike - Cathedral Guide

Retired Educational Publisher Mike has been a Cathedral Guide for seven years.  ‘I’m not particularly Christian, but the Cathedral drew me, I don’t know why. It’s a spiritual place. It tells the Christian story through art and architecture in a way I find really wonderful.’ ‘The role of Guide is an important one. ‘It’s about answering questions and welcoming, but I also take groups round which is a good opportunity to relate to people.’ ‘It’s a very friendly place, you make friends and have something in common; you’re part of a team and there’s a real sense of community. It has enriched my life though it’s only a small part of it – I do a weekly two-hour shift.  But every time you go in through Tom Gate with the Tower above you, history is all around you and you go in to the wonderful Norman architecture and see the stained glass windows – it’s a very special place.’

Find out about volunteering as a cathedral guide